Okanagan Crush Pad's Matt Dumayne
It seems that pushing the boundaries of winemaking is a way
of life at Okanagan Crush Pad Winery.
Matt Dumayne, one of the OCP winemakers, hosted a Vancouver tasting
recently that began with a so-called orange wine. This is actually a technical
term referring to a white wine which has had prolonged skin maceration and may
have picked up some colour.
The OCP wine is from the 2013 vintage. It is a blend of 50%
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay that was fermented on the skins and left on the
“It is completely natural, with no sulphur,
no enzyme and no yeast,” Matt said in early January. “There has been absolutely
nothing added to it.”
By now, the wine may have been transferred
into two clay amphorae that have just been delivered to OCP from a supplier in Tuscany
. The wine may
spend another six to eight months before being released. Whether consumers will
understand such a wine remains to be seen. But there is no question that the
wine’s esoteric qualities will find enough fans to support it.
All of the other wines being released by
OCP, under such labels as Haywire and Bartier & Scholefield, are mainstream
– but all show notes of original winemaking.
OCP is a Summerland winery that began marketing
the Haywire wines in 2010. It also operates as a custom crush winery, with
Michael Bartier as the senior winemaker. Labels that started here before moving
into wineries of their own have included Harper’s Trail, Sage Hills, C.C.
Jentsch Cellars and Platinum Bench. Current client wineries include Perseus, a Penticton
winery. Matt serves
as the Perseus winemaker.
OCP differentiated itself from the start by
retaining Alberto Antonini (right), a consulting winemaker from Italy
. It would
be an understatement to call him provocative.
He appears to have influenced OCP’s major
commitment to fermenting and storing some of its wines in concrete. This was
the first winery in the Okanagan to have egg-shaped concrete fermentation tanks
alongside traditional stainless steel tanks. Antonini once remarked that he
smells life in a concrete tank but all he smells in stainless steel is “death.”
“In the early days [of winemaking], people
were fermenting in clay or oak or cement,” he has said. “There is so much more
life in those containers.”
He has also influenced OCP to ferment with
the native yeasts. “When I started [making wine], there were no commercial
yeasts and the grapes fermented very well,” says Alberto, who started his
career more than 25 years ago with the Frescobaldi winery. He argues that
commercial years are isolated “1,000 miles away” and the wines will not express
the sense of place compared with wines made with the native yeasts of Okanagan
You can find plenty of winemakers to give
you an argument. I know a couple who think concrete tanks make no difference
and, because they are harder to clean, may nurture deleterious yeasts and
bacteria. Alberto argues that a good steam cleaning is enough to keep the
vessels sanitary but not sterile.
The bottom line is how the wines taste. The
Haywire Wild Ferment Pinot Gris 2012, which was fermented with native yeast in
concrete, is clean and refreshing, with a fullness on the palate that can be
attributed to the lees contact it had in concrete.
OCP also consults with a friend of
Alberto’s, a Chilean viticulturist called Pedro Parra. His back-to-basics
thinking on vineyards is reflected in his self-proclaimed title: a terroirist.
One of the first things Pedro did for OCP
was study the winery’s 10-acre Switchback Vineyard, planted entirely to Pinot
Gris. His work has identified five different blocks within that vineyard,
flagging individual qualities of the blocks, leading to optimal management.
“The vineyard is all organically farmed,”
Matt Dumayne says. “We are about to receive certification on that. It has been
three years since we switched over and I notice the vines have gone through a
transformation – smaller bunches, smaller berries, less crop – as they are
adjusting to the removal of fertilizers. But the flavours that are coming out
are more intense.”
Pedro and Alberto are now advising on the
development of a biodynamic vineyard that OCP will begin planting this spring
in the Garnet Valley
, just north of Summerland.
“We are planting 12 acres this year; 25,000
own-rooted Pinot Noir vines are going in,” Matt says. “The property is 312
acres. Sixty or seventy acres will be planted, 70 % of that Pinot Noir. The
balance will be Riesling and Chardonnay.”
The wines released so far under the various
OCP brands already are very well made, with an emerging sense of place. Here
are notes drawn from several recent tastings.
Pink Bub 2012
($25 for 100
cases). This pink sparkling wine is being released for the Valentine season. It
is 51% Pinot Noir, 49% Chardonnay (or close to those numbers because a dosage
of red wine is added when the wine is disgorged. It is fresh and delicious,
with hints of cherry and with a green apple crispness. 88.
The Bub 2012
($25). This is
the second vintage of a white sparkling wine, made with Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay. The wine displays a creamy texture and fresh flavours of apple and
Switchback Pinot Gris 2011
for 1,000 cases). Lean and lemony, this wine expresses the crisp austerity of a
cool vintage. This is a classic wine for shell fish. 88.
Switchback Pinot Gris 2012
for 971 cases). Both the warmer vintage and improving techniques the vineyard
have come together to produce a richly satisfying Pinot Gris, with aromas and
flavours of citrus and peach. 90.
Switchback Wild Ferment Pinot Gris 2012
($29.90 for 200 cases). This wine shows excellent intensity, with stone
fruit aromas, flavours of peach, apricot and pear and with good weight on the
Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
($35 for 413 cases). Grapes from the Canyonview Vineyard near Summerland
(not owned by OCP) have produced award winning wines for several producers.
This wine, which was aged in old French oak and then transferred to concrete
eggs for further aging, is a light but pretty wine, with aromas and flavours of
cherry and strawberry and with a classic silky texture. 90.
Canyonview Pinot Noir 2012
for 413 cases; not yet released). This vintage is darker and fuller, with spicy
cherry aromas. On the palate, it is a silken with plum and cherry flavours.
Scholefield Sauvignon Blanc 2012
($23 for 125 cases). Crisp and fresh, this wine has herbal and citrus
aromas with delicate flavours of lime. 89.
Scholefield Chardonnay 2012
for 101 cases). This unoaked Chardonnay has tropical notes of citrus and
pineapple, with a fresh and crisp finish. 90.
Scholefield White Table Wine 2011
($20). This straight-forward white has melons and apples on the palate.
The finish is crisp and refreshing. 89.
Scholefield Rosé 2011
The winery’s website still shows the 2010 vintage; the winemakers believe that,
contrary to conventional wisdom, rosé wines can take a bit of age. The 2011
vintage has the lively acidity that will preserve its appealing strawberry and
cranberry aromas and flavours. The wine is made with Gamay grapes. 89.
Scholefield Red Table Wine 2011
($20 for 408 cases). This is a blend of Syrah, Pinot Noir and Gamay. The
Syrah brings appealing notes of pepper to the aroma. There are spiced cherry
flavours. The wine has the weight of a good Beaujolais
One of the OCP clients is the
Penticton-based Perseus Winery and Vineyards. The recent vintages have been
made primarily at the OCP winery. The winemaker for the 2010, 2011 and 2012
vintages was Tom DiBello. Here are notes on recent releases.
Pinot Gris 2013
released). Winemaker Matt Dumayne stopped the ferment to leave a trace of
residual sugar. That was a good idea: it gives the wine a juicy texture and it
lifts the aromas and flavours of peach, pear, apples and citrus. 90.
released). Made from grapes grown on Black
, this shows a classic viscous texture.
It beings with an appealing perfumed aroma, leading to flavours of apricot and
This begins with appealing aromas of citris and spice. On the palate, there are
flavours of grapefruit and apple. The Muscat
side of this variety expresses itself with very slight spicy bitterness on the
is a vibrant wine with flavours of blueberry and black currant. Ripe tannins
give it a fleshy texture. 88.
Syrah Malbec 2011
Dark in hue, this begins with aromas of black cherry and vanilla. On the
palate, there are flavours of black cherry and chocolate, with white pepper and
spice on the finish. 90.
Invictus 2010 Select Lots
($32.99). This is 56% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon,
9% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. It begins with inviting
aromas of vanilla and plum, leading to flavours of plum, black currant and
chocolate. The long finish has notes of spice and cedar. 90.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Select Lots
($49.99). Considering that 2010 was considered a cool vintage, it is a
surprise to see an alcohol content of 15.1%. The fruit is so rich and ripe that
there is no heat on the finish. It begins with aromas of cassis, vanilla
and spice. The berry flavours are
complex and layered. The structure is firm enough to give this wine longevity
in the cellar. 90.